Microbial solar cells (MSCs) are microbial fuel cells (MFCs) that generate their own oxidant and/or fuel through photosynthetic reactions. Here, we present electrochemical analyses and biofilm 16S rRNA gene profiling of biocathodes of sediment/seawater-based MSCs inoculated from the biocathode of a previously described sediment/seawater-based MSC. Electrochemical analyses indicate that for these second-generation MSC biocathodes, catalytic activity diminishes over time if illumination is provided during growth, whereas it remains relatively stable if growth occurs in the dark. For both illuminated and dark MSC biocathodes, cyclic voltammetry reveals a catalytic-current–potential dependency consistent with heterogeneous electron transfer mediated by an insoluble microbial redox cofactor, which was conserved following enrichment of the dark MSC biocathode using a three-electrode configuration. 16S rRNA gene profiling showed Gammaproteobacteria, most closely related to Marinobacter spp., predominated in the enriched biocathode. The enriched biocathode biofilm is easily cultured on graphite cathodes, forms a multimicrobe-thick biofilm (up to 8.2 μm), and does not lose catalytic activity after exchanges of the reactor medium. Moreover, the consortium can be grown on cathodes with only inorganic carbon provided as the carbon source, which may be exploited for proposed bioelectrochemical systems for electrosynthesis of organic carbon from carbon dioxide. These results support a scheme where two distinct communities of organisms develop within MSC biocathodes: one that is photosynthetically active and one that catalyzes reduction of O2 by the cathode, where the former partially inhibits the latter. The relationship between the two communities must be further explored to fully realize the potential for MSC applications.
Electron-accepting (electrotrophic) biocathodes were produced by first enriching graphite fiber brush electrodes as the anodes in sediment-type microbial fuel cells (sMFCs) using two different marine sediments and then electrically inverting the anodes to function as cathodes in two-chamber bioelectrochemical systems (BESs). Electron consumption occurred at set potentials of −439 mV and −539 mV (versus the potential of a standard hydrogen electrode) but not at −339 mV in minimal media lacking organic sources of energy. Results at these different potentials were consistent with separate linear sweep voltammetry (LSV) scans that indicated enhanced activity (current consumption) below only ca. −400 mV. MFC bioanodes not originally acclimated at a set potential produced electron-accepting (electrotrophic) biocathodes, but bioanodes operated at a set potential (+11 mV) did not. CO2 was removed from cathode headspace, indicating that the electrotrophic biocathodes were autotrophic. Hydrogen gas generation, followed by loss of hydrogen gas and methane production in one sample, suggested hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis. There was abundant microbial growth in the biocathode chamber, as evidenced by an increase in turbidity and the presence of microorganisms on the cathode surface. Clone library analysis of 16S rRNA genes indicated prominent sequences most similar to those of Eubacterium limosum (Butyribacterium methylotrophicum), Desulfovibrio sp. A2, Rhodococcus opacus, and Gemmata obscuriglobus. Transfer of the suspension to sterile cathodes made of graphite plates, carbon rods, or carbon brushes in new BESs resulted in enhanced current after 4 days, demonstrating growth by these microbial communities on a variety of cathode substrates. This report provides a simple and effective method for enriching autotrophic electrotrophs by the use of sMFCs without the need for set potentials, followed by the use of potentials more negative than −400 mV.
The microbial electrolysis cell (MEC) is a promising system for hydrogen production. Still, expensive catalysts such as platinum are needed for efficient hydrogen evolution at the cathode. Recently, the possibility to use a biocathode as an alternative for platinum was shown. The microorganisms involved in hydrogen evolution in such systems are not yet identified. We analyzed the microbial community of a mixed culture biocathode that was enriched in an MEC bioanode. This biocathode produced 1.1 A m−2 and 0.63 m3 H2 m−3 cathode liquid volume per day. The bacterial population consisted of 46% Proteobacteria, 25% Firmicutes, 17% Bacteroidetes, and 12% related to other phyla. The dominant ribotype belonged to the species Desulfovibrio vulgaris. The second major ribotype cluster constituted a novel taxonomic group at the genus level, clustering within uncultured Firmicutes. The third cluster belonged to uncultured Bacteroidetes and grouped in a taxonomic group from which only clones were described before; most of these clones originated from soil samples. The identified novel taxonomic groups developed under environmentally unusual conditions, and this may point to properties that have not been considered before. A pure culture of Desulfovibrio strain G11 inoculated in a cathode of an MEC led to a current development from 0.17 to 0.76 A m−2 in 9 days, and hydrogen gas formation was observed. On the basis of the known characteristics of Desulfovibrio spp., including its ability to produce hydrogen, we propose a mechanism for hydrogen evolution through Desulfovibrio spp. in a biocathode system.
Desulfovibrio G11; MEC; Hydrogen; Exocellular electron transfer; Sulfate-reducing bacteria
The biocathodic reduction of nitrate in Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) is an alternative to remove nitrogen in low carbon to nitrogen wastewater and relies entirely on microbial activity. In this paper the community composition of denitrifiers in the cathode of a MFC is analysed in relation to added electron acceptors (nitrate and nitrite) and organic matter in the cathode. Nitrate reducers and nitrite reducers were highly affected by the operational conditions and displayed high diversity. The number of retrieved species-level Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) for narG, napA, nirS and nirK genes was 11, 10, 31 and 22, respectively. In contrast, nitrous oxide reducers remained virtually unchanged at all conditions. About 90% of the retrieved nosZ sequences grouped in a single OTU with a high similarity with Oligotropha carboxidovorans nosZ gene. nirS-containing denitrifiers were dominant at all conditions and accounted for a significant amount of the total bacterial density. Current production decreased from 15.0 A·m−3 NCC (Net Cathodic Compartment), when nitrate was used as an electron acceptor, to 14.1 A·m−3 NCC in the case of nitrite. Contrarily, nitrous oxide (N2O) accumulation in the MFC was higher when nitrite was used as the main electron acceptor and accounted for 70% of gaseous nitrogen. Relative abundance of nitrite to nitrous oxide reducers, calculated as (qnirS+qnirK)/qnosZ, correlated positively with N2O emissions. Collectively, data indicate that bacteria catalysing the initial denitrification steps in a MFC are highly influenced by main electron acceptors and have a major influence on current production and N2O accumulation.
A laboratory-scale two-chamber microbial fuel cell employing an aerated cathode with no catalyst was inoculated with mixed inoculum and acetate as the carbon source.
Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) was used to study the behavior of the MFC during initial biofilm (week 1) and maximum power density (week 20). EIS were performed on the anode chamber, biofilm (without anolyte) and anolyte (without biofilm). Nyquist plots of the EIS data were fitted with two equivalent electrical circuits to estimate the contributions of intrinsic resistances to the overall internal MFC impedance at weeks 1 and 20, respectively.
The results showed that the system tended to increase power density from 15 ± 3 (week 1) to 100 ± 15 mW/m2 (week 20) and current density 211 ± 7 (week 1) to 347 ± 29 mA/m2 (week 20). The Samples were identified by pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene and showed that initial inoculum (week 1) was constituted by Proteobacteria (40%), Bacteroidetes (22%) and Firmicutes (18%). At week 20, Proteobacterial species were predominant (60%) for electricity generation in the anode biofilm, being 51% Rhodopseudomonas palustris. Meanwhile on anolyte, Firmicutes phylum was predominant with Bacillus sp.
This study proved that under the experimental conditions used there is an important contribution from the interaction of the biofilm and the anolyte on cell performance. Table 1 presents a summary of the specific influence of each element of the system under study.
The results showed certain members of the bacterial electrode community increased in relative abundance from the initial inoculum. For example, Proteobacterial species are important for electricity generation in the anode biofilms and Firmicutes phylum was predominant on anolyte to transfer electron.R1 is the same in the three systems and no variation is observed over time.The biofilm makes a significant contribution to the charge transfer processes at the electrode (R2 and Cdl) and, consequently, on the performance of the anode chamber.The biofilm can act as a barrier which reduces diffusion of the anolyte towards the electrode, all the while behaving like a porous material.The anolyte and its interaction with the biofilm exert a considerable influence on diffusion processes, given that it presents the highest values for Rd which increased at week 20.
Microbial fuel cell; Community growth and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy
A microbial community originating from brewery waste produced methane, acetate, and hydrogen when selected on a granular graphite cathode poised at −590 mV versus the standard hydrogen electrode (SHE) with CO2 as the only carbon source. This is the first report on the simultaneous electrosynthesis of these commodity chemicals and the first description of electroacetogenesis by a microbial community. Deep sequencing of the active community 16S rRNA revealed a dynamic microbial community composed of an invariant Archaea population of Methanobacterium spp. and a shifting Bacteria population. Acetobacterium spp. were the most abundant Bacteria on the cathode when acetogenesis dominated. Methane was generally the dominant product with rates increasing from <1 to 7 mM day−1 (per cathode liquid volume) and was concomitantly produced with acetate and hydrogen. Acetogenesis increased to >4 mM day−1 (accumulated to 28.5 mM over 12 days), and methanogenesis ceased following the addition of 2-bromoethanesulfonic acid. Traces of hydrogen accumulated during initial selection and subsequently accelerated to >11 mM day−1 (versus 0.045 mM day−1 abiotic production). The hypothesis of electrosynthetic biocatalysis occurring at the microbe-electrode interface was supported by a catalytic wave (midpoint potential of −460 mV versus SHE) in cyclic voltammetry scans of the biocathode, the lack of redox active components in the medium, and the generation of comparatively high amounts of products (even after medium exchange). In addition, the volumetric production rates of these three commodity chemicals are marked improvements for electrosynthesis, advancing the process toward economic feasibility.
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are devices that exploit microorganisms as biocatalysts to recover energy from organic matter in the form of electricity. One of the goals of MFC research is to develop the technology for cost-effective wastewater treatment. However, before practical MFC applications are implemented it is important to gain fundamental knowledge about long-term system performance, reproducibility, and the formation and maintenance of functionally-stable microbial communities. Here we report findings from a MFC operated for over 300 days using only primary clarifier effluent collected from a municipal wastewater treatment plant as the microbial resource and substrate. The system was operated in a repeat-batch mode, where the reactor solution was replaced once every two weeks with new primary effluent that consisted of different microbial and chemical compositions with every batch exchange. The turbidity of the primary clarifier effluent solution notably decreased, and 97% of biological oxygen demand (BOD) was removed after an 8–13 day residence time for each batch cycle. On average, the limiting current density was 1000 mA/m2, the maximum power density was 13 mW/m2, and coulombic efficiency was 25%. Interestingly, the electrochemical performance and BOD removal rates were very reproducible throughout MFC operation regardless of the sample variability associated with each wastewater exchange. While MFC performance was very reproducible, the phylogenetic analyses of anode-associated electricity-generating biofilms showed that the microbial populations temporally fluctuated and maintained a high biodiversity throughout the year-long experiment. These results suggest that MFC communities are both self-selecting and self-optimizing, thereby able to develop and maintain functional stability regardless of fluctuations in carbon source(s) and regular introduction of microbial competitors. These results contribute significantly toward the practical application of MFC systems for long-term wastewater treatment as well as demonstrating MFC technology as a useful device to enrich for functionally stable microbial populations.
A methane-producing biocathode that converts CO2 into methane was studied electrochemically and microbiologically. The biocathode produced methane at a maximum rate of 5.1 L CH4/m2 projected cathode per day (1.6 A/m2) at −0.7 V versus NHE cathode potential and 3.0 L CH4/m2 projected cathode per day (0.9 A/m2) at −0.6 V versus NHE cathode potential. The microbial community at the biocathode was dominated by three phylotypes of Archaea and six phylotypes of bacteria. The Archaeal phylotypes were most closely related to Methanobacterium palustre and Methanobacterium aarhusense. Besides methanogenic Archaea, bacteria seemed to be associated with methane production, producing hydrogen as an intermediate. Biomass density varied greatly with part of the carbon electrode covered with a dense biofilm, while only clusters of cells were found on other parts. Based on our results, we discuss how inoculum enrichment and changing operational conditions may help to increase biomass density and to select for microorganisms that produce methane.
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are remarkable “green energy” devices that exploit microbes to generate electricity from organic compounds. MFC devices currently being used and studied do not generate sufficient power to support widespread and cost-effective applications. Hence, research has focused on strategies to enhance the power output of the MFC devices, including exploring more electrochemically active microbes to expand the few already known electricigen families. However, most of the MFC devices are not compatible with high throughput screening for finding microbes with higher electricity generation capabilities. Here, we describe the development of a microfabricated MFC array, a compact and user-friendly platform for the identification and characterization of electrochemically active microbes. The MFC array consists of 24 integrated anode and cathode chambers, which function as 24 independent miniature MFCs and support direct and parallel comparisons of microbial electrochemical activities. The electricity generation profiles of spatially distinct MFC chambers on the array loaded with Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 differed by less than 8%. A screen of environmental microbes using the array identified an isolate that was related to Shewanella putrefaciens IR-1 and Shewanella sp. MR-7, and displayed 2.3-fold higher power output than the S. oneidensis MR-1 reference strain. Therefore, the utility of the MFC array was demonstrated.
In sediment-type microbial fuel cells (sMFCs) operating in rice paddy fields, rice-root exudates are converted to electricity by anode-associated rhizosphere microbes. Previous studies have shown that members of the family Geobacteraceae are enriched on the anodes of rhizosphere sMFCs. To deepen our understanding of rhizosphere microbes involved in electricity generation in sMFCs, here, we conducted comparative analyses of anode-associated microbiomes in three MFC systems: a rice paddy-field sMFC, and acetate- and glucose-fed MFCs in which pieces of graphite felt that had functioned as anodes in rice paddy-field sMFC were used as rhizosphere microbe-bearing anodes. After electric outputs became stable, microbiomes associated with the anodes of these MFC systems were analyzed by pyrotag sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons and Illumina shotgun metagenomics. Pyrotag sequencing showed that Geobacteraceae bacteria were associated with the anodes of all three systems, but the dominant Geobacter species in each MFC were different. Specifically, species closely related to G. metallireducens comprised 90% of the anode Geobacteraceae in the acetate-fed MFC, but were only relatively minor components of the rhizosphere sMFC and glucose-fed MFC, whereas species closely related to G. psychrophilus were abundantly detected. This trend was confirmed by the phylogenetic assignments of predicted genes in shotgun metagenome sequences of the anode microbiomes. Our findings suggest that G. psychrophilus and its related species preferentially grow on the anodes of rhizosphere sMFCs and generate electricity through syntrophic interactions with organisms that excrete electron donors.
The shortage of nitrogen active sites and relatively low nitrogen content result in unsatisfying eletrocatalytic activity and durability of nitrogen-doped graphene (NG) for oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). Here we report a novel approach to substantially enhance electrocatalytic oxygen reduction on NG electrode by the implantation of nitrogen active sites with mesoporous graphitic carbon nitride (mpg-C3N4). Electrochemical characterization revealed that in neutral electrolyte the resulting NG (I-NG) exhibited super electrocatalytic activity (completely 100% of four-electron ORR pathway) and durability (nearly no activity change after 100000 potential cyclings). When I-NG was used as cathode catalyst in microbial fuel cells (MFCs), power density and its drop percentage were also much better than the NG and Pt/C ones, demonstrating that the current I-NG was a perfect alternative to Pt/C and offered a new potential for constructing high-performance and less expensive cathode which is crucial for large-scale application of MFC technology.
Due to environmental persistence and biotoxicity of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), it is urgent to develop potential technologies to remediate PBDEs. Introducing electrodes for microbial electricity generation to stimulate the anaerobic degradation of organic pollutants is highly promising for bioremediation. However, it is still not clear whether the degradation of PBDEs could be promoted by this strategy. In this study, we hypothesized that the degradation of PBDEs (e.g., BDE-209) would be enhanced under microbial electricity generation condition. The functional compositions and structures of microbial communities in closed-circuit microbial fuel cell (c-MFC) and open-circuit microbial fuel cell (o-MFC) systems for BDE-209 degradation were detected by a comprehensive functional gene array, GeoChip 4.0, and linked with PBDE degradations. The results indicated that distinctly different microbial community structures were formed between c-MFCs and o-MFCs, and that lower concentrations of BDE-209 and the resulting lower brominated PBDE products were detected in c-MFCs after 70-day performance. The diversity and abundance of a variety of functional genes in c-MFCs were significantly higher than those in o-MFCs. Most genes involved in chlorinated solvent reductive dechlorination, hydroxylation, methoxylation and aromatic hydrocarbon degradation were highly enriched in c-MFCs and significantly positively correlated with the removal of PBDEs. Various other microbial functional genes for carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur cycling, as well as energy transformation process, were also significantly increased in c-MFCs. Together, these results suggest that PBDE degradation could be enhanced by introducing the electrodes for microbial electricity generation and by specifically stimulating microbial functional genes.
Due to a growing world population and increasing welfare, energy demand worldwide is increasing. To meet the increasing energy demand in a sustainable way, new technologies are needed. The Plant-Microbial Fuel Cell (P-MFC) is a technology that could produce sustainable bio-electricity and help meeting the increasing energy demand. Power output of the P-MFC, however, needs to be increased to make it attractive as a renewable and sustainable energy source. To increase power output of the P-MFC internal resistances need to be reduced. With a flat-plate P-MFC design we tried to minimize internal resistances compared to the previously used tubular P-MFC design. With the flat-plate design current and power density per geometric planting area were increased (from 0.15 A/m2 to 1.6 A/m2 and from 0.22 W/m2 to and 0.44 W/m2)as were current and power output per volume (from 7.5 A/m3 to 122 A/m3 and from 1.3 W/m3 to 5.8 W/m3). Internal resistances times volume were decreased, even though internal resistances times membrane surface area were not. Since the membrane in the flat-plate design is placed vertically, membrane surface area per geometric planting area is increased, which allows for lower internal resistances times volume while not decreasing internal resistances times membrane surface area. Anode was split into three different sections on different depths of the system, allowing to calculate internal resistances on different depths. Most electricity was produced where internal resistances were lowest and where most roots were present; in the top section of the system. By measuring electricity production on different depths in the system, electricity production could be linked to root growth. This link offers opportunities for material-reduction in new designs. Concurrent reduction in material use and increase in power output brings the P-MFC a step closer to usable energy density and economic feasibility.
Plant-microbial fuel cell; Design; Flat-plate; Internal resistance; Root growth; Spartina anglica; Sustainable electricity
Application of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) to wastewater treatment for direct recovery of electric energy appears to provide a potentially attractive alternative to traditional treatment processes, in an optic of costs reduction, and tapping of sustainable energy sources that characterizes current trends in technology. This work focuses on a laboratory-scale, air-cathode, and single-chamber MFC, with internal volume of 6.9 L, operating in batch mode. The MFC was fed with different types of substrates. This study evaluates the MFC behaviour, in terms of organic matter removal efficiency, which reached 86% (on average) with a hydraulic retention time of 150 hours. The MFC produced an average power density of 13.2 mW/m3, with a Coulombic efficiency ranging from 0.8 to 1.9%. The amount of data collected allowed an accurate analysis of the repeatability of MFC electrochemical behaviour, with regards to both COD removal kinetics and electric energy production.
A sequential anode-cathode double-chamber microbial fuel cell (MFC), in which the effluent of anode chamber was used as a continuous feed for an aerated cathode chamber, was constructed in this experiment to investigate the performance of brewery wastewater treatment in conjugation with electricity generation. Carbon fiber was used as anode and plain carbon felt with biofilm as cathode. When hydraulic retention time (HRT) was 14.7 h, a relatively high chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal efficiency of 91.7%–95.7% was achieved under long-term stable operation. The MFC displayed an open circuit voltage of 0.434 V and a maximum power density of 830 mW/m3 at an external resistance of 300 Ω. To estimate the electrochemical performance of the MFC, electrochemical measurements were carried out and showed that polarization resistance of anode was the major limiting factor in the MFC. Since a high COD removal efficiency was achieved, we conclude that the sequential anode-cathode MFC constructed with bio-cathode in this experiment could provide a new approach for brewery wastewater treatment.
Brewery wastewater; Chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal efficiency; Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy; Microbial fuel cell (MFC)
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are often inoculated from a single wastewater source. The extent that the inoculum affects community development or power production is unknown. The stable anodic microbial communities in MFCs were examined using three inocula: a wastewater treatment plant sample known to produce consistent power densities, a second wastewater treatment plant sample, and an anaerobic bog sediment. The bog-inoculated MFCs initially produced higher power densities than the wastewater-inoculated MFCs, but after 20 cycles all MFCs on average converged to similar voltages (470±20 mV) and maximum power densities (590±170 mW m−2). The power output from replicate bog-inoculated MFCs was not significantly different, but one wastewater-inoculated MFC (UAJA3 (UAJA, University Area Joint Authority Wastewater Treatment Plant)) produced substantially less power. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis profiling showed a stable exoelectrogenic biofilm community in all samples after 11 cycles. After 16 cycles the predominance of Geobacter spp. in anode communities was identified using 16S rRNA gene clone libraries (58±10%), fluorescent in-situ hybridization (FISH) (63±6%) and pyrosequencing (81±4%). While the clone library analysis for the underperforming UAJA3 had a significantly lower percentage of Geobacter spp. sequences (36%), suggesting that a predominance of this microbe was needed for convergent power densities, the lower percentage of this species was not verified by FISH or pyrosequencing analyses. These results show that the predominance of Geobacter spp. in acetate-fed systems was consistent with good MFC performance and independent of the inoculum source.
community analysis; convergence; microbial fuel cells
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) represent a novel technology for wastewater treatment with electricity production. Electricity generation with simultaneous nitrate reduction in a single-chamber MFC without air cathode was studied, using glucose (1 mM) as the carbon source and nitrate (1 mM) as the final electron acceptor employed by Bacillus subtilis under anaerobic conditions. Increasing current as a function of decreased nitrate concentration and an increase in biomass were observed with a maximum current of 0.4 mA obtained at an external resistance (Rext) of 1 KΩ without a platinum catalyst of air cathode. A decreased current with complete nitrate reduction, with further recovery of the current immediately after nitrate addition, indicated the dependence of B. subtilis on nitrate as an electron acceptor to efficiently produce electricity. A power density of 0.0019 mW/cm2 was achieved at an Rext of 220 Ω. Cyclic voltammograms (CV) showed direct electron transfer with the involvement of mediators in the MFC. The low coulombic efficiency (CE) of 11% was mainly attributed to glucose fermentation. These results demonstrated that electricity generation is possible from wastewater containing nitrate, and this represents an alternative technology for the cost-effective and environmentally benign treatment of wastewater.
microbial fuel cells; Bacillus subtilis; cyclic voltammograms; nitrate reduction; air cathode; glucose; fermentation; microbial growth; aerobic
Microbial fuel cells (MFC) and microbial electrolysis cells are electrical devices that treat water using microorganisms and convert soluble organic matter into electricity and hydrogen, respectively. Emerging cellulosic biorefineries are expected to use large amounts of water during production of ethanol. Pretreatment of cellulosic biomass results in production of fermentation inhibitors which accumulate in process water and make the water recycle process difficult. Use of MFCs to remove the inhibitory sugar and lignin degradation products from recycle water is investigated in this study.
Use of an MFC to reduce the levels of furfural, 5-hydroxymethylfurfural, vanillic acid, 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde and 4-hydroxyacetophenone while simultaneously producing electricity is demonstrated here. An integrated MFC design approach was used which resulted in high power densities for the MFC, reaching up to 3700 mW/m2 (356 W/m3 net anode volume) and a coulombic efficiency of 69%. The exoelectrogenic microbial consortium enriched in the anode was characterized using a 16S rRNA clone library method. A unique exoelectrogenic microbial consortium dominated by δ-Proteobacteria (50%), along with β-Proteobacteria (28%), α-Proteobacteria (14%), γ-Proteobacteria (6%) and others was identified. The consortium demonstrated broad substrate specificity, ability to handle high inhibitor concentrations (5 to 20 mM) with near complete removal, while maintaining long-term stability with respect to power production.
Use of MFCs for removing fermentation inhibitors has implications for: 1) enabling higher ethanol yields at high biomass loading in cellulosic ethanol biorefineries, 2) improved water recycle and 3) electricity production up to 25% of total biorefinery power needs.
Much effort has been devoted to the synthesis of novel nanostructured MnO2 materials because of their unique properties and potential applications as cathode catalyst in Microbial fuel cell. Hybrid MnO2 nanostructures were fabricated by a simple hydrothermal method in this study. Their crystal structures, morphology, and electrochemical characters were carried out by FESEM, N2-adsorption-desorption, and CV, indicating that the hydrothermally synthesized MnO2 (HSM) was structured by nanorods of high aspect ratio and multivalve nanoflowers and more positive than the naturally synthesized MnO2 (NSM), accompanied by a noticeable increase in oxygen reduction peak current. When the HSM was employed as the cathode catalyst in air-cathode MFC which fed with leachate, a maximum power density of 119.07 mW/m2 was delivered, 64.68% higher than that with the NSM as cathode catalyst. Furthermore, the HSM via a 4-e pathway, but the NSM via a 2-e pathway in alkaline solution, and as 4-e pathway is a more efficient oxygen reduction reaction, the HSM was more positive than NSM. Our study provides useful information on facile preparation of cost-effective cathodic catalyst in air-cathode MFC for wastewater treatment.
The relationship between the bacterial communities in anolyte and anode biofilms and the electrochemical properties of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) was investigated when a complex organic waste-decomposing solution was continuously supplied to MFCs as an electron donor. The current density increased gradually and was maintained at approximately 100 to 150 mA m−2. Polarization curve analyses revealed that the maximum power density was 7.4 W m−3 with an internal resistance of 110 Ω. Bacterial community structures in the organic waste-decomposing solution and MFCs differed from each other. Clonal analyses targeting 16S rRNA genes indicated that bacterial communities in the biofilms on MFCs developed to specific communities dominated by novel Geobacter. Multidimensional scaling analyses based on DGGE profiles revealed that bacterial communities in the organic waste-decomposing solution fluctuated and had no dynamic equilibrium. Bacterial communities on the anolyte in MFCs had a dynamic equilibrium with fluctuations, while those of the biofilm converged to the Geobacter-dominated structure. These bacterial community dynamics of MFCs differed from those of control-MFCs under open circuit conditions. These results suggested that bacterial communities in the anolyte and biofilm have a gentle symbiotic system through electron flow, which resulted in the advance of current density from complex organic waste.
population dynamics; community structure; microbial fuel cell; Geobacter; selective enrichment
Four types of titanium (Ti)-based electrodes were tested in the same microbial fuel cell (MFC) anodic compartment. Their electrochemical performances and the dominant microbial communities of the electrode biofilms were compared. The electrodes were identical in shape, macroscopic surface area, and core material but differed in either surface coating (Pt- or Ta-coated metal composites) or surface texture (smooth or rough). The MFC was inoculated with electrochemically active, neutrophilic microorganisms that had been enriched in the anodic compartments of acetate-fed MFCs over a period of 4 years. The original inoculum consisted of bioreactor sludge samples amended with Geobacter sulfurreducens strain PCA. Overall, the Pt- and Ta-coated Ti bioanodes (electrode-biofilm association) showed higher current production than the uncoated Ti bioanodes. Analyses of extracted DNA of the anodic liquid and the Pt- and Ta-coated Ti electrode biofilms indicated differences in the dominant bacterial communities. Biofilm formation on the uncoated electrodes was poor and insufficient for further analyses. Bioanode samples from the Pt- and Ta-coated Ti electrodes incubated with Fe(III) and acetate showed several Fe(III)-reducing bacteria, of which selected species were dominant, on the surface of the electrodes. In contrast, nitrate-enriched samples showed less diversity, and the enriched strains were not dominant on the electrode surface. Isolated Fe(III)-reducing strains were phylogenetically related, but not all identical, to Geobacter sulfurreducens strain PCA. Other bacterial species were also detected in the system, such as a Propionicimonas-related species that was dominant in the anodic liquid and Pseudomonas-, Clostridium-, Desulfovibrio-, Azospira-, and Aeromonas-related species.
Synthetic sewage containing high concentrations of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs, mg/L level) was treated using an anoxic/aerobic (A/O) reactor coupled with a microbial fuel cell (MFC) at hydraulic retention time (HRT) of 8 h. A novel design of solid plain graphite plates (SPGRPs) was used for the high surface area biodegradation of the PPCP-containing sewage and for the generation of electricity. The average CODCr and total nitrogen removal efficiencies achieved were 97.20% and 83.75%, respectively. High removal efficiencies of pharmaceuticals, including acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and sulfamethoxazole, were also obtained and ranged from 98.21% to 99.89%. A maximum power density of 532.61 mW/cm2 and a maximum coulombic efficiency of 25.20% were measured for the SPGRP MFC at the anode. Distinct differences in the bacterial community were presented at various locations including the mixed liquor suspended solids and biofilms. The bacterial groups involved in PPCP biodegradation were identified as Dechloromonas spp., Sphingomonas sp., and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This design, which couples an A/O reactor with a novel design of SPGRP MFC, allows the simultaneous removal of PPCPs and successful electricity production.
The external resistance (Rext) of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) regulates both the anode availability as an electron acceptor and the electron flux through the circuit. We evaluated the effects of Rext on MFCs using acetate or glucose. The average current densities (I) ranged from 40.5 mA/m2 (9,800 Ω) to 284.5 mA/m2 (150 Ω) for acetate-fed MFCs (acetate-fed reactors [ARs]), with a corresponding anode potential (Ean) range of −188 to −4 mV (versus a standard hydrogen electrode [SHE]). For glucose-fed MFCs (glucose-fed reactors [GRs]), I ranged from 40.0 mA/m2 (9,800 Ω) to 273.0 mA/m2 (150 Ω), with a corresponding Ean range of −189 to −7 mV. ARs produced higher Coulombic efficiencies and energy efficiencies than GRs over all tested Rext levels because of electron and potential losses from glucose fermentation. Biogas production accounted for 14 to 18% of electron flux in GRs but only 0 to 6% of that in ARs. GRs produced similar levels of methane, regardless of the Rext. However, total methane production in ARs increased as Rext increased, suggesting that Ean might influence the competition for substrates between exoelectrogens and methanogens in ARs. An increase of Rext to 9,800 Ω significantly changed the anode bacterial communities for both ARs and GRs, while operating at 970 Ω and 150 Ω had little effect. Deltaproteobacteria and Bacteroidetes were the major groups found in anode communities in ARs and GRs. Betaproteobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria were found only in ARs. Bacilli were abundant only in GRs. The anode-methanogenic communities were dominated by Methanosaetaceae, with significantly lower numbers of Methanomicrobiales. These results show that Rext affects not only the Ean and current generation but also the anode biofilm community and methanogenesis.
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are devices that exploit microorganisms to generate electric power from organic matter. Despite the development of efficient MFC reactors, the microbiology of electricity generation remains to be sufficiently understood.
A laboratory-scale two-chamber microbial fuel cell (MFC) was inoculated with rice paddy field soil and fed cellulose as the carbon and energy source. Electricity-generating microorganisms were enriched by subculturing biofilms that attached onto anode electrodes. An electric current of 0.2 mA was generated from the first enrichment culture, and ratios of the major metabolites (e.g., electric current, methane and acetate) became stable after the forth enrichment. In order to investigate the electrogenic microbial community in the anode biofilm, it was morphologically analyzed by electron microscopy, and community members were phylogenetically identified by 16S rRNA gene clone-library analyses. Electron microscopy revealed that filamentous cells and rod-shaped cells with prosthecae-like filamentous appendages were abundantly present in the biofilm. Filamentous cells and appendages were interconnected via thin filaments. The clone library analyses frequently detected phylotypes affiliated with Clostridiales, Chloroflexi, Rhizobiales and Methanobacterium. Fluorescence in-situ hybridization revealed that the Rhizobiales population represented rod-shaped cells with filamentous appendages and constituted over 30% of the total population.
Bacteria affiliated with the Rhizobiales constituted the major population in the cellulose-fed MFC and exhibited unique morphology with filamentous appendages. They are considered to play important roles in the cellulose-degrading electrogenic community.
Microbial fuel cell (MFC) systems employ the catalytic activity of microbes to produce electricity from the oxidation of organic, and in some cases inorganic, substrates. MFC systems have been primarily explored for their use in bioremediation and bioenergy applications; however, these systems also offer a unique strategy for the cultivation of synergistic microbial communities. It has been hypothesized that the mechanism(s) of microbial electron transfer that enable electricity production in MFCs may be a cooperative strategy within mixed microbial consortia that is associated with, or is an alternative to, interspecies hydrogen (H2) transfer. Microbial fermentation processes and methanogenesis in ruminant animals are highly dependent on the consumption and production of H2in the rumen. Given the crucial role that H2 plays in ruminant digestion, it is desirable to understand the microbial relationships that control H2 partial pressures within the rumen; MFCs may serve as unique tools for studying this complex ecological system. Further, MFC systems offer a novel approach to studying biofilms that form under different redox conditions and may be applied to achieve a greater understanding of how microbial biofilms impact animal health. Here, we present a brief summary of the efforts made towards understanding rumen microbial ecology, microbial biofilms related to animal health, and how MFCs may be further applied in ruminant research.